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Canha seeks everyday role after 2019 breakout

@MartinJGallegos
November 6, 2019

OAKLAND -- When it comes to Mark Canha’s 2019 campaign, you can almost split him into three different players. Coming out of Spring Training, Canha began the season as a bench guy. Along the way, he became the A’s “fix-it” guy, filling in all over the field for injured players.

OAKLAND -- When it comes to Mark Canha’s 2019 campaign, you can almost split him into three different players.

Coming out of Spring Training, Canha began the season as a bench guy. Along the way, he became the A’s “fix-it” guy, filling in all over the field for injured players. By season’s end, he was one of “the guys,” playing a huge part in Oakland’s 97-win season, which resulted in an American League Wild Card Game appearance for a second straight year.

In a lot of ways, Canha represented the textbook example of the type of player the A’s traditionally look for: a versatile athlete who can play multiple positions and do the little things right. He displayed more-than-capable defensive skills, whether it was playing first base for the injured Matt Olson in the first half of the season, or right and center field during the absences of Stephen Piscotty and Ramón Laureano during the second half.

Coming off his fifth big league season with the A’s, there’s no more wondering about how Canha can handle regular playing time. He proved he can be an everyday player.

What went right

From the moment he smashed his first home run of the season, Canha declared it was “Bat Flippin' Season.” No, seriously, that’s what he yelled shortly after sending a home run into the left-field bleachers off Angels starter Félix Peña on March 30.

Canha had more than 400 at-bats for the first time since his rookie season in 2015, and he made the most of his opportunity by putting up the best season of his career. The 30-year-old posted career highs in games played (126), runs scored (80), hits (112, matching 2015), home runs (26), batting average (.273) and OPS (.913).

“It was awesome," Canha said. "I think that’s all anybody wants, to be a contributor regularly and feel like you’re contributing and doing what you’re capable of doing. What I did this year was something I’ve always felt like I was capable of doing. It never really happened, injuries or whatever, but it finally came full circle and I’m going to push the envelope next year to try and have an even better year.”

What went wrong

A sprained right wrist kept Canha out from April 29-May 13, but he showed no signs of rust upon returning as he smacked seven homers in May, his highest total in any month over the season.

Best moment

Growing up in the Bay Area as a Giants fan, Canha finds extra motivation going up against his once-favorite team playing on the other side of the Bay. You can bet he was pumped for Oakland’s two-game series against the Giants at the Coliseum, in which he homered three times, including a two-homer game on Aug. 25. It was part of an overall spectacular week for Canha, which earned him AL Player of the Week for Aug. 19-25, after batting .474 with four home runs and seven RBIs.

2020 outlook

Following a breakout season, Canha figures to get an everyday role from the start, likely in left field with Laureano and Piscotty fully healthy and back to their normal positions in center and right. He also should find himself back in the middle of the order after finishing 2019 as the A’s primary cleanup hitter.

Martin Gallegos covers the A's for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MartinJGallegos.